9781773062976_cover Enlarge Cover
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list price: $16.95
also available: Hardcover
category: Children's Fiction
published: Nov 2019
publisher: Groundwood Books Ltd


by Nicola I. Campbell, illustrated by Kim Lafave

tagged: native canadian, new experience, post-confederation (1867-)

Winner of the Anskohk Aboriginal Children's Book of the Year Award. Finalist for the TD Canadian Children's Literature Award, the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award and the Ruth Schwartz Award

In just four days young Shi-shi-etko will have to leave her family and all that she knows to attend residential school.

She spends her last days at home treasuring the beauty of her world -- the dancing sunlight, the tall grass, each shiny rock, the tadpoles in the creek, her grandfather's paddle song. Her mother, father and grandmother, each in turn, share valuable teachings that they want her to remember. And so Shi-shi-etko carefully gathers her memories for safekeeping.

Richly hued illustrations complement this gently moving and poetic account of a child who finds solace all around her, even though she is on the verge of great loss -- a loss that native people have endured for generations because of the residential schools system.

About the Authors
Nicola I. Campbell is is an award-winning author of children's books who lives in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Kim LaFave has illustrated many award-winning books for children. He lives in Roberts Creek, British Columbia. Visit Kim LaFave's website: http://www.klafave.com/
Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
4 to 7
p to 2
Reading age:
4 to 7
  • Short-listed, TD Canadian Children's Literature Award
  • Winner, Aboriginal Children's Book of the Year (Co-Winner)
  • Short-listed, Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Award
  • Short-listed, Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award (CCBC)
  • Long-listed, Chocolate Lily Award
  • Commended, CCBC Our Choice (Starred Selection)
Editorial Reviews

The text is poetic and the story is gentle.

— Canadian Children's Literature - CBRA

...a timely publication...Campbell has written the story in a gentle poetic style.

— Resource Links

This is a gorgeously illustrated story...The lyricism of Nicola Campbell's prose makes the point that such pristine experiences can and should be held in memory.

— Canadian Literature

LaFave places a child in modern dress...within landscapes whose strong, curving lines evoke subdued but intense feelings underlying this poignant tale of taking leave.

— Kirkus Reviews

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Top  Grade
Librarian review


In just four days young Shi-shi-etko will have to leave her family and all that she knows to attend residential school.

I would use this book to help students begin to understand the history of residential schools. Moreover, this is a story about examining family history, learning from our elders, and respecting the environment in which we live. Through one First Nation girl’s experience, students can better consider where they come from and who they are.

Source: Association of Canadian Publishers. Top Grade Selection 2016.

Association of Book Publishers of BC
Librarian review


Shi-shi-etko is excited about going away to school. She spends her last days at home visiting her natural surroundings. She visits the creek where her mother reminds her to “remember the ways of our people.” She canoes with her father where he tells her to remember the trees, mountains and lake. Her yayah (grandmother) takes her to collect a bag of memories, but although yayah’s intention is for Shi-shi-etko to keep the bag of memories, she buries it at the roots of a fir tree, so the memories will be kept safe. The cattle truck takes her and the other children away. The introduction explains the background for the piece.

Campbell is of Interior Salish and Métis ancestry. This is her first book. LaFave illustrated the award-winning Amos’ Sweater.

Source: The Association of Book Publishers of BC. Canadian Aboriginal Books for Schools. 2007-2008.

Canadian Children's  Book Centre
Librarian review


Native heritage, family and feelings comprise the themes of this outstanding picture book. As young Shi-shi-etko begins to prepare for her journey to a government mandated residential school far away and long removed from all that she has ever known, she collects the treasures of her world. All senses come into play as Shi-shi-etko counts down how many more sleeps she has until her forced departure.

Her mother’s song travels and flows throughout the valley, caught by the wind and carried by the eagles flight. It is through this song, this close connection to the earth and family that Shi-shi-etko is able to gather her memories of sight, sound, smell, taste and touch and place them in the special pouch given to her by her Yayah with instructions for safe keeping. A breathtaking sequence occurs when Shi-shi-etko’s father suggests that they take the canoe out on the lake.

This is a powerful picture book, not intended for “one-off” storytime in elementary classrooms. This is a picture book that can dovetail beautifully with Native studies at any level, that demands reflection and response, and that evokes thoughtful deliberation.

Kim LaFave’s illustrations provide a depth of awareness and understanding that reach beyond the rich, meaningful, sensitive and instructional text of this book. Together, Campbell and LaFave have created a Canadian masterpiece.

Source: The Canadian Children's Bookcentre. Winter 2006. Vol.29 No. 1.

Canadian Children's  Book Centre
Librarian review


Soon, Shi-shietko must leave for Indian Residential School, so she treasures her last days at home. Richly hued illustrations complement this gently moving and poetic account.

Source: The Canadian Children’s Book Centre. Canadian Children’s Book News. 2006.

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